Tag Archives: batik

playing with dolls

Dressing a doll can be a good place to gather ideas about garments.  The blue batik ‘shirt’, here, works off of the garment-as-a-series-of-rectangles idea (recently explored in Jude Hill‘s Boro class).  I learned that just by folding the ‘sleeve’ rectangle base in as a triangle, you achieve a class sleeve outline… simple, I know, but it is different to read, study, than to tuck, finger press, and stitch! (That’s Athena by the way, and I think I will give her a weapon or two).

This dreamer wears a fun assortment of charms, including a pewter, retro airplane.  I love that plane.  But, really? It’s her pigtails that make me smile. They are tied up with plastic-coated telephone wire. Remember hunting for remnants of that as a kid and making bracelets and rings?!  If she had arms, I’d give her a typewriter, just to keep the retro business going.  The blue floral linen was a dress, probably from the 60’s.


Here the garment idea is the basic triangle-shawl.  It is hard to get more simple than that!  This pristine doily came out of my vintage linens drawer.

Now the next doll is naked.

Every once in awhile, batik offers its swirls to the imagination in a very particular way.  Years ago, I saw a penis in the swirls of a yellow batik, and gave a two fiber-collaged primitive-styled men well endowed figures (here’s one below – not a great picture, but you get the idea).

On the new green female, however, the swirls suggested breasts… and as I wrapped red thread around the waist, it wanted to go up and circle one of the breasts, which turned into a meditation on mastectomy, which a good friend of mine’s sister had had just days prior (did you know that this is a seven hour operation?!!)

This started as the idea that playing with dolls can help one learn about garment construction, and turned into something quite else.

fractal piecing

Middle Passage II

This is the second of two pieces about the slave trade.  A few posts back, I suggested that landing on a theme or subject for a bunch of scraps of fabric can be an organizing boon.  Well, it wasn’t enough in this case to see the quilt (or series of quilts) to their conclusion.

One of my students (thank you, L!!) last week said, “you can always go back to looking at just the patterns.”  That was one of the comments that got me to work on the edge of “Passage I” as repetitive patchwork (yesterday’s post).  I am doing more of the same now with the second piece, and consciously employing fractals, which are a big part of African design (a much earlier post).  Not to be too cute, but that means, in this case, I am attending to BOTH my theme and to pattern.  The outlined rectangles reveal two differently scaled similar structures (i.e. fractals).

green/white linen looks like a sail

The citrus-green leaf linen has been employed primarily as sky/background.  When I saw it paired with fish prints and the deep blue tie-dye in the smaller of the two outlined rectangles, it had all the appearance of a sail.  So, I repeated it, larger, and intend to position it along the lower edge, where that oblong green print is currently standing in as the slave ship (all those little strike marks representing bodies).

On a lighter note, below, scraps from the piecing table.  How simple and sweet a few pieces of fabric can be together!  A hosta stalk stabilizes a chunk of wool sweater (not felted).

Off to grocery store – a run that’s been delayed for a least four days, now.  But D is home sick, and that means chicken soup is in order!

attending to the edges

I’ll admit that a big part of my goal with this quilt is to re-examine my construction methods and to keep asking – does this make sense?  Does that make sense?  And, does it make sense relative to the time that it’s taking?

Over the weekend, checking in with myself during a quiet post-bath rest (one of the most civilized practices that I can recommend), I got that if I attended to the edges of this quilt, it would facilitate the rest.

So, yesterday, in spite of three appointments, necessary emails, and then the usual Monday stuff, I managed to build the lower edge by patchworking a series of (nearly) matching 5×5 inch squares (roughly).

And, thank you St. Francis!!! – I found my two seam rippers, so I can fix an overly emphasized horizontal line in the body of the quilt (only two appointments today).

The bottom edge will also be ripped at one seam because I don’t want to switch two of the blocks.  Instead, I will line them up, all oriented the same way.

itty-bitty-bits

 

a border takes shape… this is for a “quick” happy quilt for D., whose eight month adventure with two broken bones (actually four, because it was the ulna and radius, twice), too many casts and x-rays to count, one night in the hospital, and two surgeries, came to a close a week ago with the removal of the pins.

and now, the big questions is:  to skateboard again, or not?

the doc said, “all I can tell you is, we see a lot of repeat customers around here.”

spring light

The spring light flooded our family room late this afternoon.  I don’t remember it ever being lit up like this before.  By the time I got my camera out, it was the shadows that interested me, so I haven’t captured the golden warm moment at all, really.  I share the photo of our kitchen TV and dinner clutter only because it DOES capture the light a bit better.

When I look at this picture and I don’t think, “Gee, cool, there I am in the reflection.”  No, I think, “Why was that light on?!”

Soon, our neighbor’s 200 year old copper beech will leaf out, and the light will be dappled and less intense (and that’s nice too).

With the poppy pillow commission finished, I can finally get back to my big-big quilt.

Recycled shirts and tiny pieces of Most Favored Fabrics (like a trading status!) are turning into huts and villages, here and there.


I took so much time to piece these big sections, that it would be a shame if I hid all the evidence of that work (i.e., the SEAMS), but that is the temptation right now…

That blue spade fabric (a roof of rain?) is cotton that K. brought back from India last month.  It was hard to cut, because it was such soft cotton, but cut I did. It is one of many fabrics that translates into “RAIN” in this piece.

Chronicles of a Garbage-Picking Crafter, II

See that beautiful poppy?

That was part of a cheesy jacket manufactured, oh, around 1972, I’d guess… you know the kind? Based on athletic wear, with knit cuffs and waist and zipper up the front and made of either polyester (the early gross type) or acetate?  Truly awful, in other words.

But, look how pretty that poppy is cut out, stabilized, and partnered with quality quilting cottons.

If you have a local clothes depot, real gems are waiting for you, too.

Cambridge, Mass. offers “Clothes by the Pound”. These are the articles that local Salvation Armies have given up trying to sell. They are heaped in piles on the second floor of an old office building near Kendall Square. One fills a bag, it is weighed, and off you go with a trunk-load of fabric for about $9.00.

While I’ll admit it’s not for everyone (the smell takes some getting used to, for instance), I love it!  One gets down on one’s knees and starts flinging garments around like a dog digging for a bone in the old cartoons.  If I’m there with fellow-treasure-hunter B., we might toss items between us, with commentary such as, “ooooh, an Ann Taylor — I can see you in that!”  The clothes piles invite a scrappy approach to acquisition that I seem to be more comfortable with than traditional shopping.  In fact, I am more comfortable routing around through used crap than trying pants on in an upscale clothing store at the mall (an activity I hate so much that for years I didn’t wear pants, and No, I did not go around half-naked.  I wore skirts.  They can be bought off the rack and fit fairly well).

One problem with a place like Clothes by the Pound is that it spoils you. I’ve gotten so that I wait for SALES at my favorite thrift stores, because $5.00 for a man’s shirt, even a very cool vintage Hawaiian, seems like, well, too much.

And, actually, another problem with Clothes by the Pound is that even though I’m not looking for clothing to wear, I often find great pieces — like a gorgeous 100%  wool J.Crew cable-knit sweater that was originally a Man’s Large, inadvertently shrunk — and now a perfect felted fit for a medium-sized woman.

I’ve learned to look for African fabrics, Indonesian batiks, and Indian madras. Also, anything from Hong Kong, because it tends to be hand-tailored and incredibly high-quality.

This quilt also features fabric from manufacturer’s headers (the green fish print).   Those are fun because fabric companies create sample booklets with colorways, so you would have coordinating prints, or a particular print in five different colors.  All swatches well-sized for a quilting patch.

Lastly, I recommend discovering a curtain maker or upholsterer in your area who would be willing to let you take some of their scraps.  This has been absolutely invaluable to me.  The real boon of a connection like this, especially if either of these sources work for upscale clients (and most people getting custom-made curtains and upholstery, are), is you avail yourself of very expensive linens and drapery weight polished cottons, for example, that you would NEVER pay for (many costing over $100/yard!!).

Happy Hunting!

scratches

Almost done with this one… some of the stitches need better anchoring, because it was hard to control the tension pulling through fabric that had been gessoed.

The little single chain crochet that is couched on the edge was tinted in a pot with onion skins and one lone black walnut shell which appeared in the kitchen the morning I had the pot going.

What I notice — There is a tension pairing marks made by me (the script, the stitches) and ‘found’ marks, as printed on commercial fabrics (those little vegetal shapes — which look like a primitive form of writing and those pink upstrokes on the linen, which I repeated with my black marker).   What I want to see now is a piece that ONLY has marks/writing made by me.